Celebrity watch

Naturalist Sir David Attenborough is a patron of the World Land Trust.

Sir David Attenborough
Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough, the presenter of the current BBC nature documentary series Life In Cold Blood, has been a patron of the World Land Trust since 2003.

"My links with the trust go as far back as 1976," says Attenborough. "While filming Life on Earth in Rwanda, we were alerted to the plight of the country's mountain gorillas, which are under threat from poaching, human-spread disease and civil war. With John Burton, chief executive of the trust, who was at that time working for the Fauna Preservation Society, we were able to launch the Mountain Gorilla Project.

"When John contacted me in 1989 to ask whether I would support a new rainforest initiative in Belize, I was pleased to give it my backing."

John Burton, chief executive of the trust, says: "When we launched the Programme for Belize in 1989 - the first project of what has become the World Land Trust - David gave us his endorsement, which led to Today newspaper giving us a start-up donation of £25,000. David became a patron after he helped launch the Christopher Parsons Appeal in memory of his friend who was producer of Life on Earth."

David Beckham, the LA Galaxy footballer and former England captain, visited Sierra Leone earlier this month to draw attention to child survival in his role as a goodwill ambassador for Unicef.

Beckham, who could win his 100th international cap in next week's friendly against Switzerland, visited Freetown, the capital, before travelling to the Bombali District in the northern province of Sierra Leone, which has the highest mortality rate in the country for children under five. He spent time at a health clinic learning about common causes of child deaths such as malaria, diarrhoea, malnutrition and vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles.

"We can't turn a blind eye to the tens of thousands of children who die every day in the developing world from preventable causes," said Beckham. "In Sierra Leone, one in four children dies before reaching their fifth birthday. It's shocking, especially when the solutions are simple - things such as vaccinations or using mosquito nets to reduce the chance of getting malaria."

Children's author Jacqueline Wilson, who wrote The Story of Tracy Beaker and The Illustrated Mum, encouraged children to keep it zipped for Macmillan Cancer Support's 12th annual sponsored silence last Friday. The Big Hush marked the end of Cancertalk Week. Macmillan's aim for the week was to get schoolchildren aged between seven and 16 talking and learning more about cancer. "Cancer affects so many families, so it's really important that as many children and young people as possible can learn more about it," said Wilson.

The Princess Royal opened a new education and therapy facility at Rutherford School in South Croydon on behalf of rugby charity Wooden Spoon, which part-funded the £1.2m project with a £24,000 grant. The new building will provide four purpose-built classrooms and a therapy room for the profoundly disabled pupils who attend the school.

Michel Roux Jr, the two-starred Michelin chef, will host a fundraising dinner at his Le Gavroche restaurant in aid of Cosmic, the charity that raises money for the paediatric intensive care unit at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London. The event will recreate the London restaurant's opening night in 1967.

Chancellor Alistair Darling was joined by schoolchildren who wanted his support for CSV's Dare to Care: Make Time to End Child Poverty campaign earlier this month. Pupils from Market Deeping School in Lincolnshire turned 11 Downing Street into a giant play area to kick off a series of volunteer-led play activities in schools and children's centres across the country.

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